by Jeff Neal
Pulaski County Judge-executive Barty Bullock can remember days gone by, when rural Pulaski County communities had very distinct identities.
“There was a sense of community,” Bullock said. ”Neighbors came together for pie suppers; they socialized and they worked together to make their community stronger.”
Yesterday in a press conference following Pulaski Fiscal Court’s regular meeting, Bullock and representatives from county government, law enforcement, education and the Somerset-Pulaski Chamber of Commerce announced the Neighborhood Alliance Program, which is designed to enhance outlying communities.
“This program is designed to bring people in these communities together,” Bullock said. “We’re going to bring local government to these communities ... so these people can talk to us about their issues.”
To kick-start the program, a series of meetings will be held in the coming months. The first community gathering will be held March 25 at Nancy Elementary School. Meetings are also scheduled for Southwestern High School, Shopville, Burnside and Woodstock Park.
“Several additional locations will be included as this program grows,” Bullock said. “These initial locations will get the ball rolling until the program can be implemented into every community in Pulaski County.”
The initiative will involve Pulaski County Schools, which will provide the venue for many of the community gatherings.
“The Neighborhood Alliances serve as a vital link between neighborhoods and county government,” said Pulaski County Schools superintendent Steve Butcher. “We need community involvement for our kids and we think this program will strengthen our communities.”
Pulaski County Sheriff Todd Wood said his department will have a presence at the meetings to answer questions and concerns about services and also implement programs dealing with child restraint training and child identification cards.
“There are a lot of people I run into who indicate they just might not be as comfortable with having to come into town,” Wood said. “With these meetings, they can come talk to us in a setting they’re comfortable with.”
Pulaski County Attorney Martin Hatfield noted that 6,600 people came into his office last year to seek help.
“That’s 10 percent of the county’s population,” Hatfield said. “If we can get out into the communities and let people know how we can help them — and what we can’t do to help them — then it will really be beneficial.
“The criminal justice system is very confusing,” Hatfield added. “Through these meetings, we can help people understand the process.”
Bullock noted a recent trip to Owensboro with the Somerset-Pulaski Chamber of Commerce helped uncover the need for a Neighborhood Alliance in Pulaski County.
“Each year our local Chamber organizes an on-site visit with another top performing Chamber of Commerce to learn from their successes and see if there are ideas we can bring back to our community,” said Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber executive director Bobby Clue. “It was obvious after talking with Owensboro that a Neighborhood Alliance could be of tremendous value locally.”